Making video-on-demand services more accessible

20 December 2018

Ofcom has today made recommendations to Government on how new rules could help to make video-on-demand services more accessible for people with hearing or sight impairments.

Many people with these impairments rely on subtitles, signing or audio description – collectively known as ‘access services’ - to enjoy television.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 paved the way for new requirements to make video-on-demand services accessible.

We’ve recommended that the new rules for providers of video-on-demand services should be similar to those already in place for traditional broadcasters

This means providers would need to offer subtitling on at least 80% of their programmes, audio description on 10% and signing on 5% within four years of the rules coming into force. There will be some exemptions based on affordability, audience benefit, and technical difficulty.

We also want video-on-demand providers to report on how they meet their targets, and on their plans to ensure that accessibility of their services continuously improves. Our recommendations have now been submitted to help inform the Government’s drafting of new rules.

Subject to the new rules being put in place, we expect to consult on a new Code of Practice that would give guidance to providers in meeting the new requirements.